Republican lawmakers took a break from the beginning of the last full week of the 1989 session to roast each other at a fund-raiser for future GOP legislative campaigns.
Barbs were also traded with Gov. Norm Bangerter and with Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, who took time out from a physical examination he was undergoing at the University of Utah to attend the lunch at Little America Monday.But many of the pointed comments were saved for Speaker of the House Nolan Karras, R-Roy, a certified public accountant, and Senate President Arnold Christensen, R-Sandy, an electrical contractor.
Karras was criticized for having chosen a dull profession. "Nolan and his CPA friends wanted to be morticians but they didn't have enough personality," Christensen said during his turn at the lectern.
That was just warming up for Christensen, who continued that as a member of the Roy City Council, Karras designated a stray dog as the mascot of the Weber County community and a telephone pole as its tree.
Bud Scruggs, the governor's chief of staff, also made several jokes at Karras' expense. Scruggs, a former congressional aide, said he once arranged for Karras to have his picture taken with former President Ronald Reagan.
Scruggs said he asked Karras whether he wanted the picture signed. The speaker's response, according to Scruggs, was, "Should I make it out to Ron or President Reagan?"
He also got a dig in about Karras' rumored plans to run for governor. Bangerter, Scruggs said, has warned the leader of the House "what he was going to do if he caught him measuring for drapes or carpet one more time."
Bangerter, a building contractor, went after Christensen. The governor said the Senate president had done a lot of work for him, including rewiring his cabin getaway. "The electricity still doesn't work right," he said.
Scruggs teased the 52-year-old Christensen about his age. "He was first elected in 1930," the governor's chief of staff said. Christensen has actually been around only since 1978.
Perhaps the best laughs from the audience of some 300 lobbyists and others willing to pay $125 each came from a routine by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Brigham City, and House Assistant Majority Whip Byron Harward, R-Provo, that poked fun at former Republican Merrill Cook.
Bishop introduced himself as Cook and gave a speech reminiscent of Cook, who ran against Bangerter as an independent candidate. The speech, which dealt with moral issues, was constantly interrupted with crass comments by Harward.
The punch line came when the heckler was finally identified as the governor.
Lawyers, always a favorite target of legislators who are not themselves in the legal profession, were not spared in the comments directed at Sen. Richard Carling, R-Salt Lake.
Christensen said Carling, one of the many attorneys in the Legislature, has "never suffered from snake bites because, of course, of professional courtesy."